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Re: Impersonal Passives and Quirky Case in Subject-Prominent Languages (was: Copula)

From:Eldin Raigmore <eldin_raigmore@...>
Date:Wednesday, March 21, 2007, 0:28
On Tue, 20 Mar 2007 20:15:03 +0000, R A Brown
<ray@...> wrote:

>Eldin Raigmore wrote: >[snip] >>What I was specifically talking about are basic clauses that _do_ have a >>grammatical subject, but not necessarily a nominative one; or _do_ have a >>grammatical (direct?) object, but not necessarily an accusative one. > >I do not see how this is possible if we are talking in purely >_grammatical_ terms, i.e. we are not dealing with semantic roles. what I >mean is that the nominative case is defined as "in a morpholologically >*accusative*, the case used for both subjects of intransitive verbs and >subjects of transitive verbs" [Trask]. That is, the nominative case is >defined by being the grammatical subject. > >Similarly the accusative case (in nominative-accusative languages) is >the case that marks the direct objects.
Well, if we follow those two definitions too slavishly, there can be no such thing as "quirky case" subjects and "quirky case" objects in Icelandic and German and Malayalam and Hindi; so the only thing anyone who has incorporated those definitions into his soul, could contribute to this thread, would be "The phenomenon this thread tries to discuss does not exist, and is a contradiction in terms. So, Eldin, please shut up and quit wasting bandwidth."
>What we can have, of course, is the situation where what is the >grammatical subject in one language is not the grammatical subject in >another, as in the example of the Latin impersonal verbs I gave where >the English subject is expressed by the accusative case. But in Latin, >that accusative ain't the subject.
Your Latin examples do indeed show that, for which I thank you. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Let me explain the German and Icelandic examples given by Paul R. Kroeger in his 2004 book "Analyzing Syntax: a Lexical-Functional Approach", published by Cambridge University Press, LCN P291.K76, ISBN 0-521-81623-8. Chapter 10 is "'Quirky Case' and Subjecthood". Section 10.3, pages 276-278, is “Quirky Non-Subjects in German”. He considers the following four sentences; 18a Icelandic Active Ég hjálpaði þeim. I(NOM) helped them(DAT). 19a Icelandic Passive Þeim var hjálpað. Them(DAT) was helped. 49a German Active Ich habe ihm geholfen. I(NOM) have-1sg him(DAT) helped. 49b German Passive Ihm wurde geholfen. Him(DAT) was helped. He quotes Zaenen, Maling, and Thráinsson (1985)* as proving Þeim is the grammatical subject of 19a, by the tests of reflexive binding, subject ellipsis, subject-verb inversion, and raising. But he shows Ihm is not the subject of 49b, because it fails the tests of subject ellipsis, can’t be the controllee or target of an Equi construction, and can’t be omitted from an infinitive and understood to have arbitrary reference. The ungrammatical German “sentences” are: 50c *Er kam and __ wurde geholfen. 51c *Ihm / *Er hofft, geholfen zu warden. 52c *Gehoffen zu warden, ist angenehm. *Annie Zaenen, Joan Maling, and Höskuldur Thráinsson, 1985, Case and Grammatical Functions: the Icelandic Passive, Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 3:441-483. To me, the only fly in the ointment, is that I cannot find where he proves (or refers to someone else’s proof) that þeim and ihm are the direct objects of 18a and 49a respectively. That’s just one of the reasons I want an “Object Properties List” similar to Keenan’s “Subject Properties List”. But, whether or not the datives in 18a and 49a are direct objects, it is the case that the dative in the Icelandic passive, 19a, is a syntactic subject, but the dative in the German passive, 49b, is not a syntactic subject; indeed 49b is impersonal – it has no syntactic subject. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>>The English direct object is expressed by a genitive in Latin, >>>showing the _origin of the weariness etc. >> >> Why wasn't it ablative instead of genitive, I wonder? > >Good question - I fear Greek interrupted my thought processes here. The >genitive in Greek does often express _origin_, having merged the PIE >ablative & genitive case. But that is not so in Latin, where the Latin >ablative is a merger of earlier ablative, instrumental & locative cases. > >I've gone to the reference books to straighten myself up. As well as >possession and partitive functions, the Latin genitive could also denote >the 'sphere of reference'. This seems to be genitive used with these >verbs. Cf. this apposite example: > >me stultitiae meae pudet = it shames me with reference to my foolishness >(i.e. I am ashamed of my foolishness)
I'd certainly have never known if you hadn't said! Thanks again, Ray.


R A Brown <ray@...>